Road to the big dance: How Panthers got to third straight Grand Final

Jaeman Salmon celebrates a try against Canberra. Photo: NRL Images.
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Penrith produced one of the great Premiership defences in 2022, qualifying for a third straight NRL Grand Final.

Here’s how the year unfolded…

Round 1

Filling in for Nathan Cleary, Sean O’Sullivan helps guide Penrith to a season-opening 28-6 win over Manly at BlueBet Stadium in front of 16,901 fans.

Round 2

The Panthers hold off a strong finish from St George-Illawarra to record a 20-16 win at Kogarah. Viliame Kikau bags a double in the win.

Round 3

Newcastle’s Mitchell Barnett is sent off in a high-scoring match at Carrington Park in Bathurst. The Panthers score five second half tries and win 38-20.

Stephen Crichton scoring against Newcastle. Photo: NRL Images.

Round 4

Nathan Cleary plays for the first time in 2022, and despite an off night with the boot, leads the Panthers to a 26-12 win over South Sydney.

Round 5

Taylan May and Dylan Edwards score early tries as Penrith march to a 32-12 win over Canterbury at CommBank Stadium. Nathan Cleary kicks six from six.

Round 6

Taylan May scores one of the tries of the season as Penrith record a 40-12 thrashing of Brisbane, winning their sixth straight game to start the year.

Round 7

After a tight first half, Penrith pulls away from Canberra in the second half, scoring four tries in a 17 minute period to help set up a 36-6 thrashing.

Soni Luke playing for Penrith against Canberra. Photo: NRL Images.

Round 8

Gold Coast take a surprise 4-0 lead into half-time, but the Panthers jump out of the blocks in the second half to eventually win 18-4.

Round 9

An eight match winning streak is ended when Parramatta records a 22-20 win over Penrith at BlueBet Stadium, Penrith’s first loss at the venue since 2019.

Round 10

The Panthers turn it on in awful conditions in Magic Round, thumping a depleted Melbourne 32-6 at Suncorp Stadium. Izack Tago grabs a double.

Round 11

A Jarome Luai double helps Penrith to an 18-0 half-time lead over the Roosters at the SCG. The Roosters offer little in the second half and the Panthers win 32-12.

Round 12

Isaah Yeo scores in just the second minute to help Penrith take control against the Cowboys. The Panthers lead 16-0 at the break and win 22-0.

Round 13

Kurt Falls makes his NRL debut as an Origin-depleted Penrith surprises many by producing a 30-18 win over Canterbury at BlueBet Stadium.

Round 14

Nathan Cleary produces one of his best games of the season, tearing apart Newcastle at McDonald Jones Stadium. The Panthers win 42-6.

Round 15

The Panthers prove too good for the Warriors in Redcliffe, taking an 18-0 lead into half-time before a strong second half results in a 40-6 thrashing.

Round 16

A controversial night at the foot of the Mountains sees the Panthers continue a strong winning run, defeating the Roosters 26-18.

Round 18

An under-strength Penrith hold on to beat Wests Tigers 18-16 thanks to a late James Fisher-Harris try at CommBank Stadium.

Round 19

Stephen Crichton is hurt in a fiery encounter that sees Penrith eventually out-pace Cronulla to record a 20-10 victory at BlueBet Stadium.

Round 20

Nathan Cleary is sensationally sent off in a dramatic night at CommBank Stadium. Parramatta goes on to record a 34-10 victory in front of a strong crowd.

Nathan Cleary is sent-off against the Eels. Photo: NRL Images.

Round 21

In a match overshadowed by Ricky Stuart’s post-match press conference, Penrith prove too good for Canberra in the nation’s capital, 26-6.

Round 22

Penrith are held scoreless for the only time this season, with Melbourne taking advantage of an under-strength home team to win 16-0.

Round 23

Liam Martin proves the hero as the Panthers secure the Minor Premiership with a 26-22 win over South Sydney at Accor Stadium.

Liam Martin celebrates scoring the winning try. Photo: NRL Images.

Round 24

Jarome Luai returns from injury and the Panthers demolish the Warriors in their last home game of the regular season, posting a 46-12 victory.

Round 25

A host of players make their debut as the Panthers rest most of the first grade squad in the final round against the Cowboys. Penrith go down 38-8.

Finals Week 1

Nathan Cleary returns from a five match suspension to produce a masterclass performance against western Sydney rivals Parramatta. Leading 7-6 at the break, the Panthers go on to record a 27-8 victory, their stoic defence a highlight of the opening weekend of the Finals.

Dylan Edwards in action against the Eels. Photo: NRL Images.

Finals Week 2

After going down 12-0 to South Sydney early and their Premiership defence at risk of ending a week before the Grand Final, two crucial tries close to half-time put Penrith back in the game. They go on with the job in the second half, eventually winning 32-12 to qualify for the Grand Final.

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